Jodie Renner spent the first three decades of her life in the Interior of British Columbia and the following three in Ontario. After bringing her life back to the mountains in 2014, she decided to showcase the province’s unique geography and culture through a compilation of stories, poems and photos about life in B.C.’s Interior.
Renner grew up in the small, remote mining community of Bralorne, which has since become a ghost town. Every summer during her upbringing, Renner remembers travelling around the province for family camping trips, and said they covered every region south of Prince George.
After she moved out east, none of the beauty Renner witnessed in Ontario could be matched by the mountains of B.C. Upon hearing Ontarians speak about their province’s natural allure, Renner would wonder, “Where are your mountains? Where are your lakes?
“But I kept my mouth shut of course. I always missed B.C. I was so excited to be back, and then got thinking about how I would like to create a homage to B.C., to sort of celebrate the province,” she said.
Voices from the Valley was released in late November and features the works of 51 writers around the province, and Renner said the variety of stories has something of interest for every reader.
“It would make a great coffee table book,” she said. “There are stories that macho men would love, like an encounter with a grizzly bear and fleeing from a forest fire. Then there are more romance-type stories that a woman might prefer.”
The stories that comprise Voices from the Valley are a mix of fact and fiction, and they all captures unique elements of living in B.C.’s Interior.
“Right from the beginning, this was going to be a high quality, B.C.-wide anthology,” Renner said. “It wasn’t going to be one of those small, regional collections that accept everything exactly as it is because everybody’s in a group together. This one is curated and professionally edited. If submissions were boring or poorly written, they didn’t get accepted.”
“Life in one city is kind of similar to life in any other city,” she said. “You drive into one city or another and you’ve got your MacDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King. Life is pretty much the same from one city to another. So this is not about city life, it’s about getting out into nature and dealing with problems unique to British Columbia.”
Renner won’t be profiting from of the book’s success, as all proceeds will be supporting Doctors Without Borders.
“(Doctors Without Borders) are such dedicated, giving people who take time off from their comfortable practices to go to third-world countries and dangerous overseas war-torn areas,” she said. “Wherever they go there’s a lack of medical facilities and a high need for it.”
All contributions were made to the book for free, and of the 51 writers featured, 21 of them are from the South Okanagan. Voices from the Valleys doesn’t include stories from the lower mainland or coastal communities, but Renner said those regions will be featured in a separate publication.
The 300-page book costs $18.95 and is available in Penticton from The Book Shop, Red Tuque Books, and the Hooked on Books website.
To buy at a discounted price, contact Renner’s publication, Cobalt Books, at cobaltbooks.net or by calling 250-493-6838.